Romance flag officially planted.
I think it’s a pretty safe bet after chapter 3 that Adachi-sensei is going down the “Miyuki” path here, and setting up a potential relationship between step-siblings Touma and Otomi. As totoum said after the last chapter, Adachi was “30 years ahead of the LN industry” – but step-incest is somewhere I’m still surprised to see him go today.
The thing is, though, that after the simple interactions in this month’s chapter I can definitely see it – and it really doesn’t bother me. At the very least what seemed likely is confirmed, Touma is the main character here. Whether that means Souchirou needs to be extra careful crossing the street I won’t say, but Touma is definitely the one with the charisma – he has that special Adachi MC magic that’s hard to quantify, but easy to spot. I see a lot of Tatsuya in Touma – that same wry and self-deprecating wit, and core of quiet decency.
The dynamic here is very familiar, but familiarity is one of the great pleasures of an Adachi manga – yes, he rips himself off constantly but would we have it any other way? Souchirou seems to be the far more socially advanced brother, with a school full of wannabe girlfriends, and he’s also extremely protective about Otomi. He has good reason, as it happens, but I can definitely see this as a potential source of tension down the road, when Touma and Otomi’s feelings for each other become obvious.
And obvious they will become, I believe. There’s an Adachi flashback here, not a tragic but a heartwarming one. Touma, new to the family, is feeling alone and isolated. Otomi is “afraid of strangers”, and that’s just what Touma feels like. During a family visit to a matsuri (classic Adachi) he buys a doll for her, only to have her reject it (and him) and knock it into a puddle. He falls asleep with a tear in his eye that night, but a month later Otomi is sleeping next to him, clutching the doll. It’s a simple moment, and could be hackneyed in lesser hands – but not Adachi’s. How he can keep pulling stunts like that and making them work is one of the miracles of manga.
The other interesting development here comes as Touma and Otomi are rummaging through “the Old Man’s” remembrances (his father is “The Old Man”, Souchirou and Otomi’s is “Father”) and see a picture of him in his Meisei uniform – #12. Later, Otomi finds an old Meisei #1 uniform and assumes it belonged to her father – but Touma is certain that’s not the case. It’s been a long time since I’ve read Touch but I can’t recall who #12 was, and whether Tatsu took up his brother’s #1 uniform (I’m almost sure he did) but my gut is telling me that uniform was Kazuya’s, not Tat-chan’s. Either way, it seems as if the connections to the past will be explored in much more depth, maybe as soon as next month.